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Profile Atarian: Lawrence Armstrong - The Atari Times

Profile Atarian: Lawrence Armstrong

The Mega ST is the best Atari model that I ever had
by Lawrence Armstrong

December 28, 2004
On Christmas Day in 1983, my experience with Atari systems began. I received an all-black model 2600 with Pac-man and Combat pack-in games. Ms. Pac-man was a bonus gift. I really enjoyed playing Ms. Pac-man and later got another favorite, Dig Dug. Star Raiders proved to be tough to get a feel for at first, but once I dialed in the control, it became my favorite overall game on the 2600. I still own the 2600 and after 20 years it still works.

Next, when I was in a department store, I saw a kiosk that was like an arcade machine, except it featured something I had never heard of before--the Atari 800XL. At the time, I couldn't believe how good the graphics were when compared to the 2600. I knew right then I had to get one. I enjoyed this system for several years, especially the 1050 disk drive. My favorite games on this system were many of the same cartridge games that were available on the 2600--Pac-man, Ms. Pac-man, Dig Dug, Defender, and Galaxian.

Then, in 1986, something revolutionary happened, I moved up to the 520 ST. Due to cost, I went with the basic model with single-sided floppy disk and monochrome monitor. I eventually traded the 800 XL in on accessories for this system. This system was a huge leap forward and to this day remains my favorite class of Atari technology. My favorite game on this system is probably Strider 2 or Curse of the Azure Bonds.

In about 1992, I decided to upgrade to something with better graphics. At the time the choice was the very high-end TT030, Falcon, and Mega ST(e). The TT030 was awesome but it wasn't very compatible, especially with games, and it was very expensive. Next was the Falcon. It had the kind of graphics I wanted, but again was expensive and the compatibility was an issue. I went with the Mega ST(e). I have to say that overall this is the best Atari model that I ever had. It was very fast and had expansion capabilities. If only I could have afforded a graphics card and an SVGA monitor. At the time, it would have cost around $1,200. I really enjoyed this system and I even had over 120 megs of hard disk storage, which went mostly unused. Most game disks were copy protected and wouldn't run from the hard disk any way.

I eventually traded this system in on a Falcon. I really wish I could have afforded to get an optimal configuration of this system, but at the time Atari was winding down their computer division to focus on the Jaguar. I eventually sold the Falcon before I wanted to because the cost, relative to other computers, was becoming a factor in such areas as price of memory and hard disk storage.

My last Atari system was the Jaguar, which was eventually traded in on a Playstation. My favorite game on the Jaguar was Alien vs. Predator. I remain a fan of this system because I believe it was one of the most capable pieces of hardware made by Atari. It was a TRUE 64-bit system--two 64-bit RISC chips--and had the best graphics rendering speed of any Atari system. And hey, there's always Ebay, or better yet Best Electronics. I am currently planning on buying another one. Other systems I've owned include a Lynx, a second-hand 400, which was in mint condition, a 520ST(fm) with 2.5 megs, and also a 1200XL.

True Story

When I was installing a hard drive on the Mega ST(e), I noticed a bit of glue or paste from the manufacturing process on one of the chips on the mother board. I decided to brush it off with my finger. Although I was standing on a tile floor, I had static charge and I heard a little tick when I touched the chip. It killed the system! After a local dealer failed to fix it they directed me to Atari customer service. I called them and talked on the phone to Bob Brodie, and explained what had happened. I shipped my computer off to Atari. They repaired it, upgraded the 720k floppy disk to 1.44, and shipped it back to me with a bill that read $0.00. That's right. They fixed it for free!

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